The federal government has announced $250 million in funding for regional tourism to encourage home-grown holidays.
The package includes a $50 million regional tourism recovery initiative to help regions heavily reliant on tourism dollars and $200 million for an additional round of the Building Better Regions Fund.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Michael McCormack said $100 million of the funding will be dedicated to tourism-related infrastructure.
“We know every dollar spent on building local communities is a dollar well spent and that is at the heart of our economic plan for a more secure and resilient Australia,” he said.
Federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham said the new fund will support internationally dependent tourism regions to adapt their offerings for domestic visitors.
“Increasingly we are targeting sectors hardest hit, with this regional support sitting alongside our $50 million business events program to get meetings, conventions and conferences up and running again, which is so crucial to the visitor economies of our capital and larger cities,” he said.
The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) has backed the new commitments and their focus on regional tourism.
ATIC executive director Simon Westaway said the funding will create and keep new jobs by attracting more visitors.
“From Tropical North Queensland, Victoria’s Phillip Island and WA’s South West with Margaret River, these regions all delivered to a once-rising international market,” Westaway said.
“Yet international visitors have rapidly evaporated under a closed national border due to the public health response to COVID-19, ensuring depressed conditions to many regional economies.
“ATIC has repeatedly called for our compelling and captivating regional tourism product to be enabled to sustainably grow for the future. These new Federal programs can contribute to this.”
Also coming out in support of the funding, Caravan Industry Association of Australia CEO Stuart Lamont said the attractions and experiences in regional Australia are under real threat without Government support.
“The Tourism Industry has been savaged through a winter of COVID off the back of a summer of bushfires,” he said.
“While we have seen recent green shoots in concentrated regions, many tourism industry businesses (and those businesses which rely on tourism) continue to be on their knees.
“We are in a feast or famine situation at present with some of our most significant tourism regions hardest hit with the challenges of 2020.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia’s national CEO, Michael Johnson, said he was pleased to see funding go towards some of the hardest-hit areas in remote regions.
“Destinations within driving distance of our major cities are finally enjoying a much-needed boost in domestic travellers,” he said.
“But our long-distance destinations, such as Uluru and Cairns, which rely almost completely on international tourists, continue to suffer badly.
“These centres are operating well below capacity and with no sign of international travel.”